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New Lebanon, NY Shaker armed elders rocking chair. Old
red stain under varnish surface, 4 arched & steam-bent back
slats with flat bottom edges, flat with beveled front top edges,
the second slat pegged front & rear. The front & rear
faces of the slats reveal that they were riven rather than sawn.
The heavy rear straight posts are turned & tapered from their
base to their top ending in blunt terminations with lathe point
marks, similar to 1830 New Lebanon dining chairs. The front posts
are turned & tapered from their base to their seat rail,
above which an hourglass transition ends in through-arm tenons
which are pegged. The flat scrolled arms have flat sides with
rounded edges & are shaped from the hand hold to a narrow
end where their tenons enter post mortises. The turned stretchers
are heavy & straight not beginning their taper until about
an inch from their tenons, and are set single front & rear,
double on the sides. Single scribe lines mark the rail &
stretcher mortise locations, double scribe lines, the slat locations.
The concave curved rocker blades with rounded front & short
cut off backs are pegged through post channels. The cut off backs
allowed the chair to be hung up-side down from peg rails. The
splint seat with thread tied joints is probably original.
This rocking chair exhibits characteristics of very early
New Lebanon chairs. These items were further refined during the
next 2 decades to form the classic 1840-1850 rocking chairs.
These characteristics include the heavy front & rear posts,
the straight & heavy stretchers, the non-graduated slats
with flat edges, riven rather than sawn surfaces, the rather
thick & flat scrolled arms, the front post through-tenon
to the arm and their somewhat crude hourglass transition, &
the concave thick blades. Thus, one could view this chair as
an early prototype. All wood components of this chair appear
original. Circa 1810-1830. OH, 42; Seat, 14 ½h.
Provenance: Mollie Hamilton, Lenox, MA; Willis Henry Shaker
Exhibited: Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, NYC, 1989, Beyond
The Tradition of Rocking Chairs.
Related Reference: Rieman & Muller, The Shaker
Chair, OH, 1984, Pages 133 & 137 (ref. to early characteristics),
134 (ref. to similar slats), 138 (ref. to similar arm), 144 (ref.
to refined front posts) & 150 (ref. to similar terminated
Union Village, OH Shaker one drawer sewing stand, an example
of fine Shaker design, proportion & craftsmanship. Its surface
is a mixture of original & old stain. Its one board top,
with rounded edges, contains a low & delicate gallery at
the back & sides. Two underside cleats, with rounded front
ends, one to each side accept the turned leg tenons. The drawer,
rabbeted & nailed, is hung by the top edges of the sides.
The 4 stretchers, each chamfered in an 8 sided manner, are through
tenoned to an enlarged section of each leg post, which was turned
larger at each joint to increase the strength of each joint.
Each leg post terminates on a brass castor attached by screws
from the underside. The drawer pull & the shaped backboard
which functions as a drawer stop appear to be early, probably
Shaker replacements. Four old countersunk screw holes from the
underside of the side cleats indicate that at one time an upper
shelf or drawer gallery had been added and subsequently removed.
The stand is probably chestnut as the primary wood, pine as secondary.
Union Village, established in 1806, was the Central Ministry
for all western Shaker communities. Its membership peaked at
about 600 members in 1820, but beset by leadership & financial
problems its membership rapidly declined & the Community
disbanded in 1910. In 1912, the Otterbein Home was established
as a church retirement home for the elderly. They purchased the
Union Village property, buildings & contents. Reportedly,
this sewing stand was purchased by Clark Garrett, an early Shaker
dealer, from an Otterbein disbursal sale in the 1950s.
This stand, of eastern Shaker influence, represents the
finest of Union Village furniture. OH, 23; Top, 20 5/8w.
x 12 7/8d.
Provenance: Union Village; Otterbein Home, Lebanon, OH;
Clark Garrett, Fairhaven, OH; Private Collection, OH.
Exhibited: McCormick Gallery, Boston Architectural Center,
MA, Dec. 2003 Jan. 2004, Shaker: Simple Eloquence.
Related Reference: Kassay, The Book of Shaker Furniture,
MA, 1980, Pages 232, 235, & 237 (ref. to related forms of
Roycraft, Shaker, A Collectors Source Book II,
IL, 1985, Page 17 (ref. to a stylistically related Enfield, NH
Painted Shaker one drawer cabinet, primary wood of walnut
or butternut, secondary of pine. The dovetailed & joined
cabinet case has 3 round vent holes, one on each side and rear,
a slanted lift top with brass hinges and a dovetailed lower rear
drawer with a brass pull & lock.. Its surface is original
red stain under varnish. The cabinet was probably used on a store
counter in a Shaker Store. At one time the round holes had interior
screens, a couple of very small butterfly knobs remain. This
is not attributed to a community but because of it lightness,
construction and form, it undoubtedly originated in a New England
or New York State Shaker Community. Circa 1840-1860. OH, Front,
18 ¼, Rear, 22 7/8; Case, 20w. x 14
Provenance: Willis Henry Shaker Auction.